Foreword
Isaac Asimov:
Science Popularizer,
Skeptic, and Rationalist

Isaac Asimov was unique in America and the world.He was the preeminent popularizer of science in the twentieth century, having authored thousands of articles and approximately five hundred books. Asimov was born on January 2, 1920, in Petrovich, Russia, and brought to the United States by his parents when he was three years old.He lived in Brooklyn, New York, took a B.A. from Columbia University in 1939, and a Ph.D. in 1948. He became a professor of biochemistry at Boston University, though as his writing career developed, he retained his professorship without any teaching duties.

He was best known at first for his science fiction. His first stories were published in 1939, and his first book, Pebble in the Sky, not until 1950. His famous trilogy, Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation, was published in 1952-1953.

A steady stream of books flowed from his pen on a wide range of topics. His popular interpretations of science were especially impressive. He had a prodigious memory. The first drafts of his writings became largely his final drafts, with only a few minor corrections.

Asimov's role as a popularizer and a proponent of science should not be underestimated nor denigrated.Many scientists involved in their own specialties are loath to be known as popularizers, worrying about the barbs of their professional colleagues. Criticisms did not bother Asimov, who willingly assumed the role of educating the public in the methods and outlook of science.In the nineteenth century T. H. Huxley played a similar role in England, especially in defending Darwin and evolution.And in the twentieth century

-xi-

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The Roving Mind
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Roving Mind *
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword Isaac Asimov: Science Popularizer, Skeptic, and Rationalist xi
  • A Celebration of Isaac Asimov — a Man for the Universe xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I the Religious Radicals *
  • 1: The Army of the Night *
  • 3: The Reagan Doctrine 20
  • 4: The Blind Who Would Lead 24
  • 5: Creeping Censorship 27
  • 6: Losing the Debate 29
  • Part II Other Aberrations 30
  • 7: The Harvest of Intelligence *
  • 8: That Old-Time Violence 37
  • 9: Little Green Men or Not? 40
  • 10: Don'T You Believe? 43
  • 11: Open Mind? 47
  • 12: The Role of the Heretic 49
  • Part III Population *
  • 13: The Good Earth is Dying *
  • 14: The Price of Survival 66
  • 15: Letter to a Newborn Child 72
  • Part IV Science: Opinion 74
  • 16: Technophobia *
  • 17: What Have You Done for Us Lately? 84
  • 18: Speculation 88
  • 19: Is It Wise for Us to Contact Advanced Civilizations? 92
  • 20: Pure and Impure 97
  • 21: Do We Regulate Science? 104
  • 22: For Public Understanding of Science 107
  • 23: Science Corps 110
  • 24: Science and Beauty 113
  • 25: Art and Science 116
  • 26: The Fascination of Science 120
  • 27: Sherlock Holmes as Chemist 127
  • Part V Science: Explanation 132
  • 28: The Global Jigsaw *
  • 29: The Inconstant Sun 139
  • 30: The Sky of the Satellites 151
  • 31: The Surprises of Pluto 157
  • 32: Neutron Stars 160
  • 33: Black Holes 162
  • 34: Faster Than Light 165
  • 35: Hyperspace 169
  • 36: Beyond the Universe 175
  • 37: Life on Earth 183
  • Part VI the Future 188
  • 38: Transportation and the Future *
  • 39: The Corporation of the Future 200
  • 40: The Future of Collecting 208
  • 41: The Computerized World 214
  • 42: The Individualism to Come 228
  • 43: The Coming Age of Age 237
  • 44: The Decade of Decision 244
  • 45: Do You Want to Be Cloned? 251
  • 46: The Hotel of the Future 256
  • 47: The Future of Plants 262
  • 48: Bacterial Engineering 266
  • 49: Flying in Time to Come 272
  • 50: The Ultimate in Communication 278
  • 51: His Own Particular Drummer 285
  • 52: The Future of Exploration 295
  • 53: Homo Obsoletus? 300
  • 54: Volatiles for the Life on Luna 307
  • 55: Touring the Moon 312
  • 56: Life on a Space Settlement 317
  • 57: The Payoff in Space 324
  • Part VII Personal *
  • 58: I Am a Signpost *
  • 59: The Word-Processor and I 334
  • 60: A Question of Speed 337
  • 61: A Question of Spelling 340
  • 62: My Father 344
  • Acknowledgments 348
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